Reconsideration of Phylogenetic Relationships of the Subclass Peritrichia (Ciliophora, Oligohymenophorea) Based on Small Subunit Ribosomal RNA Gene Sequences, with the Establishment of a New Subclass Mobilia Kahl, 1933


Corresponding Author: K. Xu, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071, China—Telephone/FAX number: +86 532 8289 8776; e-mail:


ABSTRACT. Based on its characteristic oral apparatus, the ciliate subclass Peritrichia has long been recognized as a monophyletic assemblage composed of the orders Mobilida and Sessilida. Following the application of molecular methods, the monophyly of Peritrichia has recently been questioned. We investigated the phylogenetic relationships of the peritrichous ciliates based on four further complete small subunit ribosomal RNA sequences of mobilids, namely Urceolaria urechi, Trichodina meretricis, Trichodina sinonovaculae, and Trichodina ruditapicis. In all phylogenetic trees, the mobilids never clustered with the sessilids, but instead formed a monophyletic assemblage related to the peniculines. By contrast, the sessilids formed a sister clade with the hymenostomes at a terminal position within the Oligohymenophorea. We therefore formally separate the mobilids from the sessilids (Peritrichia sensu stricto) and establish a new subclass, Mobilia Kahl, 1933, which contains the order Mobilida Kahl, 1933. We argue that the oral apparatus in the mobilians and sessilid peritrichs is a homoplasy, probably due to convergent evolution driven by their similar life-styles and feeding strategies. Morphologically, the mobilians are distinguished from all other oligohymenophoreans by the presence of the adhesive disc, this character being a synapomorphy for the Mobilia.